Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Homefront: 'Can my landlord show people around our home without our consent?'

The tenant recently found the landlord giving a couple a tour of his apartment

The Abu Dhabi landlord wants to sell the apartment. Ravindranath K / The National 
The Abu Dhabi landlord wants to sell the apartment. Ravindranath K / The National 

Can you please advise how we should handle viewings? My landlord wants to sell his apartment and we are under the impression he had to give notice and arrange timings. I came home last week to find him in the apartment with a couple showing them around. This is not acceptable. What should we do? IP, Abu Dhabi

A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property in return for paying the rent. If the landlord wishes to sell his property, he has to get the consent of the tenant to allow access for viewings. If this access clause is not in the rental contract, then it is up to the tenant to give the go-ahead or not.

As brokers, we get very frustrated when a seller lists his or her property with us but states that the tenant must not be disturbed. This makes our job very difficult, trying to find a buyer without doing a viewing. If a viewing clause is in the contract or a tenant allows viewings, it is only fair that they are conducted with respect, allowing at least 24 hour's notice is a must and all viewings must be accompanied. It is never OK for broker, or indeed owner, to let themselves in without permission even if they possess a key.

Another viewing strategy could be to allow viewings only on a certain day and between agreed times, for example, every Saturday between 10am and 12pm. Note that while the property belongs to the landlord, it is the "home" of the tenant.

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My rental lease is up for renewal. Even though the rent calculator says I’m not entitled to a reduction, I’ve looked at the going market rate and many similar properties in my area are significantly lower. Is it worth negotiating anyway? MM, Dubai

The rental calculator is designed to limit the amount a landlord is allowed to increase the rent. In a softer rental market its function becomes somewhat redundant as market forces take over. My advice is to always have a face-to-face meeting with the owner, to explain that you value your business relationship and that you would wish to stay on or renew your agreement. That said with compounding evidence of similar and much cheaper options available, you would obviously not want to remain while paying more than the market rate. Show proof of what you’re saying by giving evidence of other properties via online portals or details from estate agents.

If the landlord does not agree to your reduced terms, you can always move out and find alternative accommodation.

Remember that a cordial business relationship with your landlord is very important, so it may be better to find some common ground rather than just fight for your demands.

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Can you clarify the penalties for breaking a lease early? We paid in two cheques, so are they supposed to refund the second cheque excluding the penalty period? SV, Dubai

When it comes to breaking a rental contract, both the landlord and tenant should read through the contract carefully. If there is a break clause within it, the terms under this clause should be adhered to. If, however, there is no provision for a tenant to leave the contract early, he/she is then at the mercy of the landlord. However, many reasonable landlords within the market will look at a tenant's situation with empathy, especially if they are faced with job loss or redundancy. There is nothing in law that states the landlord has to agree to breaking of the contract. What is common however, is a form of compensation given to the landlord. The industry norm is a one to two-month rental penalty. This then gives the landlord some cushion and will enable them to find another tenant without being out of pocket.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 34 years in London and Dubai

The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com

Updated: December 12, 2018 04:11 PM

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